As I was flipping through the television channels recently, I was overwhelmed to see how secularism is influencing our culture today, particularly through advertising. In the teaching series Christian Worldview, Dr. Sproul describes secularism as that which looks at reality and every human activity and understands it “in light of and judged by the value or norm of the present time.” To be secular means to be worldly, earthly, and temporal. I have discovered a recurring theme behind secularism: Your quality of life now is what matters most because you may not be here tomorrow. This obviously conflicts with what Christianity teaches, in that Christians have an eternal purpose for their lives.
Secularism is sprinkled throughout advertising campaigns with questions like, “Why wait when you can get it now?” Take a minute and think about the central themes of various commercials on television. “You owe it to yourself” or “you deserve the best” is heard throughout many product, service, self-help medication, and cosmetic advertisements. It can absorb almost an entire home-improvement or self-improvement show. How did we ever live without stainless-steel appliances and granite counter tops or all of those procedures and pills that improve our looks and lifestyles?
In the opening of one of the first Tabletalk articles in 1977, Dr. Sproul states, “Secularism as a way of life is rapidly replacing Christianity. Every aspect of our culture is already feeling the impact of secularism.” You are looked down upon in America if you are not living up to today’s standards of living. We do whatever it takes, whatever the price, to keep up with our neighbors.
To overcome and make a difference in this world, Christians need constant reminders of how our life in the here and now has eternal significance. We must soak ourselves in the truths of God’s Word (see Matt. 6:19–21). We must lay up treasures in heaven through using the gifts, money, and talents the Lord has given us to serve His purpose, not our fleshly desires.
John Petersen is the director of development for Ligonier Ministries.